Decades of research show that time spent looking at high contrast images is important for a baby’s cognitive development. Until about the fifth month, babies use their eyes as the primary source for information about the world and how it works.
Once your baby’s pupils are working and his two eyes start to coordinate, he'll be compelled to look at high contrast images, especially from birth to 14 weeks old.
Here's how you can get started.
- Start with simple images about 12 inches (about the length from your hand to your elbow) away from your baby’s face. Try not to switch images until your baby looks away and loses interest and hold the images steady. You may notice your baby stares at the images for many seconds, even minutes at a time.
- When she loses interest in one, change to a new image, and eventually switch to the more complex images as her eyes grow stronger.
- You can help promote visual tracking by slowly moving an image back and forth horizontally in front of her face to help her practice following a moving object with her eyes: this skill is important later for reading, writing, and hand-eye coordination.
- Offer high contrast images in the car, during tummy time, and during alert “play” times for the first 14 weeks.